En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
2 ratings

Tuesday - April 19, 2005

From: orlando, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Treatment of mealy bugs on house plants
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have some house plants that have a "fungi" that has appeared and spread from one to the others. I believe it is killing the plants. It is a white fuzz the is sticky to the touch. when i whip it off the leaves it comes right back. I lost one plant and another is on its way out. It is also on my ponytail plant it weights down the leaves. could you help me get rid of the "fungi" before it kills all my house plants. thank you


I suspect that the problem you are seeing on your Ponytail Palm and other house plants is actually an insect called mealybugs. Mealybugs are among the very few problems affecting Ponytail Palms. They are small insects that look like tiny, flattened roly-polies or pillbugs when not covered by a large mass of white, waxy "cotton". The waxy coating they exude helps to protect them from predators. Mealybugs may be killed by wiping them with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. More than one treatment may be required to get them all as they are quite adept at finding places to hide. Also, eggs and nymphs (juveniles) are so tiny that they sometimes avoid the alcohol treatment on the first pass.

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Non-fruiting squash
July 25, 2007 - With all this rain in Dallas why would our Zuchinni and Yellow squash be beautiful and green but not produce any squash?
view the full question and answer

Hypoxylon Canker removal in Austin TX
March 26, 2012 - I have several oaks that appear to have been killed by Hypoxylon atropunctatum from last summer's drought. Is it safe to cut them down in March or does that risk spreading Oak Wilt too. Should I ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with hibiscus tree in Wichita Falls, TX
November 10, 2008 - My Hibiscus trees have black spots on the leaves. What might this be and what is the remedy?
view the full question and answer

Brown spots on young redbuds in Lincoln TX
August 01, 2010 - I have lined my driveway in Lee County Texas with Red bud trees purchased both in Dripping Springs and in College Station. The 14 trees are of varying ages and heights (planted during the fall and wi...
view the full question and answer

Moth using Agarita as its larval food in New Braunfels, TX
March 27, 2009 - What moth uses agarita as its larval food? It is a perennial problem that can nearly defoliate the specimen and severely limit its flower production.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center